Does Inlet Beach need a Dollar Gene62ral Store? More than 400 people have signed an online petition saying they do not.
There is another hard-copy petition circulating with even more signatures of those wanting to block the chain discount store from their community.
Larry Brocato owns a home two blocks from the proposed location of the Dollar General Store, on west Park Place. The proposed store would be located on U.S. Highway 98 at the northwest corner of Walton Lakeshore.
Brocato is a full-time resident and has lived there since 2009. He is president of the Historic South Inlet Beach Association that represents 200 homes.
Brocato said the signs went up on the property a couple of months ago, announcing that a Dollar General would be coming soon.
"I'm not sure we need it there," he said. "We have a Publix, Winn Dixie, and CVS, all within a mile of here. And when you look at Dollar General's architecture, it is not consistent of what you see at historic Inlet Beach. This is mostly a residential community. There are a lot of residents surrounding the site."
He also objects to the traffic problems the store might create.
"There have been a lot of accidents at that intersection and it is a safety concern. There would be no way for cars that come from the east to go back east without making a U-turn," he said.
While Brocato says he has been to Dollar Generals before, he will not do his shopping there if the store is built.
Rod Wilson owns a home on Walton Lakeshore and is another Inlet Beach homeowner who is against the proposed store.
"This is an important part of 98. It's part of the Scenic Corridor," he said. "A store has to be compatible and show there is a need."
Wilson doesn't believe Dollar General has done either.
"Inlet Beach is in transition with new projects being built and substantial investments are being made in the area. We need to be careful what we approve. A Dollar General is not compatible with the character of the area as it is evolving," he said. "… And there is already a Dollar General 10 minutes away in Bay County. There is no need for this one.”
He feels it is important for the developer to meet with homeowners in Inlet Beach, and plans are in the works to try to make that happen.
Representatives of Dollar General commented to The Sun via email stating:
"Dollar General is committed to serving our neighbors by providing everyday low prices in a small, easy-to-shop, convenient format. We are offering shoppers in Inlet beach a value alternative. Our prices are on par with the supercenters and are roughly 20% better than an average grocery store and 40 percent better than an average drug store. Dollar General has a well-regarded reputation for exemplary corporate citizenship, and we intend to reinforce our long history of giving back to the communities served by our stores.
"This parcel of land where our proposed store will be located is commercially zoned. Dollar General has worked diligently to comply with local codes and building requirements in Inlet Beach and accommodate reasonable concerns. Both in Florida and across the 40 states Dollar General operates in, we are thoughtful and respectful of community concerns. With its nearly 75-year history grounded in the small town of Scottsville, Ky., Dollar General understands the unique needs of customers and provides great values on products customers use and rely on every day in compact retail locations."
The project is set to come before Walton County's Design Review Board in September.